Summit Success on Orizaba, Mexico 18,410′ the 3rd highest point in North America

After a memorable climb on Iztaccihuatl (17,158′) on Tuesday our team traveled south and east to the town of Tlachichuca at the base of Orizaba.  We spent some time here reorganizing our gear in preparation for our next climb.  We also had time to relax and enjoy some good Mexican meals which is always a treat.

We stayed at our good friends the Reyes family.  Four generations ago this family built a large compound for the purpose of manufacturing soap.  Back then there were no roads leading to the little village of Tlachichuca.  Interest in climbing Orizaba led to manufacturing their own equipment some of which is on display at their compound.  This interest in climbing Orizaba eventually led to helping visiting climbers from around the world with logistics and support to climb here.  Today Gerardo and Luis Reyes carry on that rich tradition.  The soap factory has been converted into a compound for climbers to rest and organize themselves in a comfortable setting with first class hospitality.  It is always a treat to visit the Reyes family.

On Thursday we loaded our gear onto a 4-wheel drive vehicle and drove to the Pierdra Grande hut at approximately 14,000′.  We took an afternoon hike then returned to the hut to cook dinner and hit the sack in preparation for an early rise for our summit bid.

On Friday we were treated to a clear and windless night.  We navigated by headlamp through the lower part of the route eventually gaining a section of the route we call the Labyrinth which leads the the Jamapa Glacier.  We arrived at the base of the glacier at sunrise and put on our crampons, changed out trekking poles for ice axes, and clipped into a rope.  We ascended the 2000’+ glacier to the impressive crater rim of this extinct volcano which we traversed to its high point.  We had the summit to ourselves as we shared in a clear view and took pictures.

Here are a few highlights of the climb.  The entire photo gallery from our trip is here: http://kurtwedbergphotography.com/International-Expeditions/Mexicos-Volcanoes-Nov-2009/10215645_qBCrw/1/709897328_D6mwz

Ready to leave the Pierdra Grande hut for our ascent.

Ready to leave the Pierdra Grande hut for our ascent.

Approaching the Jamapa Glacier near sunrise.

Approaching the Jamapa Glacier near sunrise.

The Jamapa Glacier on Orizaba.

The Jamapa Glacier on Orizaba.

Roped up and beginning to ascend the Jamapa Glacier.

Roped up and beginning to ascend the Jamapa Glacier.

Scott McCay enjoying the impressive view while taking a break.

Scott McCay enjoying the impressive view while taking a break.

James Duke and Matthew Harris pacing themselves at almost 18,000 near the top of the Jamapa Glacier

James Duke and Matthew Harris pacing themselves at almost 18,000' near the top of the Jamapa Glacier

Topped out and enjoying the view at the crater rim of Orizaba

Topped out and enjoying the view at the crater rim of Orizaba

Part of Orizabas impressive crater

Part of Orizaba's impressive crater

James and Matthew sharing in the sheer joy of a great team effort on the summit.

James and Matthew sharing in the sheer joy of a great team effort on the summit.

The team on the summit.

The team on the summit.

Kurt Wedberg poses next to one of several crosses on the summit

Kurt Wedberg poses next to one of several crosses on the summit

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